In his new horror-comedy “Black Friday,” Casey Tebo aims to explore the frightening side of consumerism but ultimately delivers a forgettable flick. Tebo reunites horror icons Devon Sawa and Bruce Campbell, hoping to recapture the magic of George A. Romero’s classic “Dawn of the Dead” and its metaphorical take on mindless shopping. While the premise seems promising, the execution falls flat.
“Black Friday” lacks any truly suspenseful or laugh-out-loud moments. The attempts at social commentary come across as heavy-handed rather than insightful. The characters are thinly written, making it difficult to become invested in their journey. While Sawa and Campbell are reliable presences, they aren’t given much to work with in terms of dialogue or development.
Ultimately, “Black Friday” feels like a missed opportunity. The ingredients were there for a smart satire on consumerism, but the end result is largely forgettable. The flick breezes by without making much of an impression. While it may work as background noise during a B-movie marathon, “Black Friday” doesn’t have the memorable moments or sharp commentary needed to make it a horror-comedy worth revisiting. Tebo’s ambitions exceed his execution, resulting in a middle-of-the-road genre offering.
As Thanksgiving night approaches, a group of disgruntled employees at a toy store reluctantly make their way to the store to open the doors at midnight for the busiest shopping day of the year. A meteor crashes onto Earth carrying a parasite from the solar system. On Black Friday, a ragtag crew of misfits, led by a store manager named Jonathan and a long-time employee named Ken, find themselves battling goblin-like holiday shoppers who have been transformed into monstrous creatures.
Black Friday Synopsis
‘Black Friday’ sets its sights on delivering a timely takedown of consumer culture and corporate greed, but Casey Tebo’s horror-comedy never fully realizes its ambitious goals. Centered around a group of big box retail employees forced to work overnight on Thanksgiving leading into the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, the film aims to explore the plight and frustrations of workers sacrificed for corporate profits.
Devon Sawa stars as family man Ken, reluctantly pulled from holiday celebrations with his kids for the overnight shift. This early seed of resentment is established but never fully bloomed into meaningful commentary. The ensemble of cardboard cutout characters includes the rebellious young worker, the seasoned veteran manager, and various other tired archetypes. But we learn little about their lives and motivations beyond surface-level gripes about their employer.
When infected pink goo turns shoppers into monstrous consumers with a literal appetite for consumption, the metaphor comes across as far too heavy-handed. The mindless shoppers craving deals and trampling other customers would have worked better as a more subtle background element rather than the central threat.
Peppered with a few amusing moments, the film breezes along briskly but without leaving much of an impression. Bruce Campbell classes up the joint in a supporting role, but can’t salvage the shallow script. The cast delivers serviceable performances, but the forgettable characters and by-the-numbers plot do them no favors.
While the ingredients for a smart satire are all there, ‘Black Friday’ never quite manages to bake them into something memorable. Tebo ultimately delivers a middle-of-the-road genre entry more likely to be forgotten than added to holiday horror rotation. With tighter writing and more nuanced exploration of its themes, the film could have left viewers more satisfied. As is, it provides mild entertainment for genre fans but fails to sink its teeth into timely social commentary in any meaningful way.
An old Babies R’ Us location was used for the filming of Black Friday.
As I want this review to be spoiler free that’s all I’m going to say about what happens in the movie and instead will conclude with my general review of the film now that the premise is set.
‘Black Friday’ assembles an intriguing cast and hints at a timely satirical premise, but ultimately squanders its potential on a lackluster horror-comedy that lacks enough laughs or scares to leave a lasting impression.
Devon Sawa stars as family man Ken, forced to miss Thanksgiving dinner with his kids to work the overnight shift at a toy store besieged by infected shoppers turned monstrous consumers. Horror icon Bruce Campbell lends his charisma to an underwritten role as the store manager. Though Sawa and Campbell have their moments, the shallow script gives them little to work with in terms of character development.
The film aims to satirize consumer culture, with the rabid shoppers representing the darkest impulses of capitalism. But it handles this metaphor clumsily, spelling out its message far too explicitly through on-the-nose dialogue rather than weaving it subtly into the narrative.
While the practical creature effects showcase gnarly zombies, their mindless biting and consumption grows repetitive quickly, with few new twists on the well-worn formula. The pacing also leaves much to be desired, with the intriguing setup giving way to a repetitive series of uninspired zombie attacks in the final act.
It isn’t until the halfway point that the seeds of a smarter satire start to sprout, with Campbell waxing philosophically about the sinister motives behind Black Friday sales, while the staff laments their thankless retail jobs. But these glimmers of social commentary get lost in a generic plot that fails to capitalize on its themes.
By the end, ‘Black Friday’ feels like a missed opportunity, with its talented cast, cult favorite director, and potential for timely commentary undone by the pedestrian script. It breezes by quickly enough yet is unlikely to satisfy gorehounds craving horror or discerning fans expecting a sharper skewering of consumerism. While Sawa and Campbell completists may want to give it a look, most viewers would be better off skipping this middle-of-the-road genre disappointment.
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